Squashes are gourds; fleshy vegetables protected by a rind that belong to the Cucurbitacea family, which also includes melons and cucumbers. Squash is a notably American food. It sustained Native Americans for some 5 thousand years and nourished the early European settlers, who quickly made the vegetable a mainstay of their diet. From Acorn to Zuchinni, they are high in fiber, nutrient dense, and virually fat free. Winter squash is one of the best for storage. Squash that is stored has more carotene than freshly picked squash.
Baking: This method brings out the sweetness of winter squash. You can bake squash halves (Acorn is excellent for this!) with the skins on, later scooping out and mashing the flesh with your favorite seasonings such as cinnamon, brown sugar, sesame seeds, or grated cheese.
Boiling: This method is faster, though it tends to dilute flavors. Place peeled squash pieces in a small amount of water and boil until tender. Drain off water and mash.
Microwave: Arrange squash halves cut side up or, chunks, in microwaveable dish, cover and cook until tender (7-10 min.). Let stand for 5 min. after cooking.
Sauteeing: Grated or peeled, diced squash can be sauteed in broth or oil in a non-stick skillet. Cook until slightly crunchy.
Steaming: Place seeded squash halves in a vegetable steamer and cook over boiling water until tender. Or, cook peeled chunks/slices in the steamer 15-20 min.
Serve mashed or pureed. To enhance the natural sweetness, combine the squash with any of the following baked or steamed pears, apples, bananas, cranberries, lemon, orange juice, almond or vanilla extract, fresh or powdered ginger, curry, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, cloves, brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey. For a savory dish, mash the cooked squash with sauteed onions, garlic, and herbs, or mix with cooked corn, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
Winter salad of squash, pomegranate and pine nuts recipe:
A tangy salad that makes a good first course. To turn it into a substantial main dish for two, add a teacupful of cooked pearl barley or couscous.
1lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses or 1 tbsp honey mixed with 1 extra tsp lime juice
a bunch of watercress, washed and tough stems removed
2 tbsp red pomegranate seeds (buy them ready shelled in punnets in the fruit section of the supermarket)
2oz/60g pine nuts
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Line a large roasting tin with non-stick parchment.
- Tumble the squash into the roasting tin and toss in a tablespoonful of olive oil until coated. Sprinkle with salt and grind over pepper.
- Roast for 30 minutes or until tender and edged with brown.
- Mix the rest of the olive oil with the lime juice and pomegranate molasses (or honey). Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, mix the watercress, butternut squash and dressing with pomegranate seeds and pine nuts. Divide between plates and serve.